Humane Society warns against buying puppies under 8 weeks, following 2 seizures

The PEI Humane Society says it is concerned other puppies may be ill after a sick five-week-old puppy had to be humanely euthanized.

Animal protection officers investigate other incident after puppies, mother dog seized

One of 12 puppies seized by the PEI Humane Society last month. The puppies are now 8 weeks old, the minimum recommended age at which dogs should be re-homed. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News)

The PEI Humane Society says it is concerned other puppies may be ill after a sick five-week-old puppy had to be humanely euthanized. 

Animal protection officers are investigating the incident after the puppy was found on the front steps of a house. The society said it had been adopted just three days before. 

The PEIHS shelter veterinarian determined the puppy was severely emaciated, non-responsive and unable to exhibit normal reflexes. 

"The puppy must have been sick for a period of time. If it was due to starvation, I would see the results in the blood work. She also wasn't extremely dehydrated. The fact is, this puppy should have seen a vet," said Dr. Rhonda MacDonald.

"Instead she was taken ill, from her mother and litter mates at only five weeks of age and given to a new home. Even if she was healthy, this can result in major aggression and anxiety when they grow up. These are problems that can never be fixed."

Second investigation

Humane Society Protection officers are also investigating after seizing 12 puppies and a mother dog a month ago. The society said they were seized after being found living in a confined space on a dirt floor with little protection from the elements. 

A few of the 12 puppies seized by the PEI Humane Society a month ago. The puppies, now 8 weeks old, were reportedly found laying in dirt and on rocks with little protection from predators. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News)

The mother dog was found to have health issues due to having three litters of puppies in one year, according to the society. The society also said puppies from those litters were given away by five weeks of age, which the society says is too young to be taken away from their mother.

Reports of abuse, neglect on the rise 

Officials with the PEI Humane Society say their animal protection officers have investigated 300 cases of neglect or abuse in 2016, approximately 100 more than last year. 

Jennifer Harkness, Development Coordinator with the PEI Humane Society, attributes this to an increase in reporting and more awareness about what constitutes neglect. But Harkness said there is still work to be done when it comes to educating the public on best practices for the care and sale of animals. 

The PEI Humane Society seized 12 puppies and the mother dog after the animals were found living in unsuitable conditions. (PEI Humane Society)

"Sometimes the owners in these situations don't have any malice or bad intentions for their animals," said Harness. "But they are uneducated, they don't realize that the problems can arise from not providing proper care, or why [puppies and kittens] should stay with their mother for at least eight weeks of age."

Under eight weeks is too young

The PEIHS said the popularity of social media and online sites make it easier to sell puppies and they are seeing a disturbing pattern of puppies being re-homed before eight weeks of age.

Jennifer Harness, development coordinator with the PEI Humane Society, said social media has made it easier to buy and sell animals, and appears to be contributing to a disturbing pattern of puppies being re-homed before eight weeks of age.

"When this trend starts happening, sometimes these puppies are going to a home that's not best suited to them, often with people who have never cared for a puppy before," said Harkness. "When there's money involved and people are making a profit, sometimes the ethics aren't there, and that's our biggest concern."

Harkness cautions people to do research before adopting any puppy or dog.

"Ask questions," said Harkness. "Do they have any behaviour or health issues, have they been re-homed before, ask to visit them in their home, especially puppies, so you will see the conditions that they've been living in and if you have concerns, please contact PEI Humane Society."

So far, there have been no charges in either of the recent investigations.

Officials with the PEI Humane Society are hopeful that changes to the Companion Animal Protection Art, slated for January 2017, will make it easier to penalize individuals who mistreat animals.